Chennai: Rival factions of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) ‘removed’ each other’s leaders from key party positions on Monday as the crisis in Tamil Nadu’s ruling party deepened.

A meeting of the AIADMK, chaired by chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and attended by deputy chief O. Panneerselvam and other leaders, passed four resolutions, declaring all party appointments made by V.K. Sasikala null and void on the ground that her nomination as interim general secretary is still pending before the Election Commission (EC).

The meeting also declared that changes in party posts made by Sasikala’s nephew T.T.V. Dhinakaran are invalid, but minutes later he ‘sacked’ two ministers from their party posts. Dhinakaran, sidelined as deputy general secretary, ‘removed’ Palaniswami from the post of Salem district secretary on Sunday.

Through the day, Dhinakaran continued making more changes to party posts. However, dairy development minister Rajendra Balaji, told reporters that the AIADMK meet did not discuss either Sasikala or Dhinakaran.

The meeting concluded that the party’s general council and executive council will be convened by party’s presidium chairman E. Madhusudhanan on 12 September and decided to take legal steps to retrieve AIADMK organs Namathu MGR and Jaya TV, both currently controlled by Dhinakaran.

MLA Thanga Tamilselvan from the Dhinakaran camp claimed that only the “general secretary has the right to convene the general council" as per party by-laws. “How can a chief minister pass resolution about private properties Namathu MGR and Jaya TV?" asked AIADMK leader Nanjil Sampath, also from the Dhinakaran faction.

Worryingly for the Palaniswami government, more than 30 legislators skipped the meeting. Nineteen AIADMK legislators, loyal to Dhinakaran, met governor C. Vidyasagar Rao last week to withdraw their support to the Palaniswami government. The number had grown to 23 by Sunday.

Opposition leader and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) working president M.K. Stalin on Monday accused the governor of delaying a floor test in the ssembly. He also blamed the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) for holding “katta panchayats" (kangaroo courts) between factions of the AIADMK and said that the “Tamil Nadu government has surrendered itself to Delhi".

Tamil Nadu, which has been witnessing political turmoil since the hospitalization of former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa in September last year and chaos in the ruling AIADMK after her death in December, awaits a decision by the governor, who has been shuttling between Chennai and Mumbai as he is also the governor of Maharashtra. Tamil Nadu has not had a full-time governor in the past year.

Meanwhile, ministers D. Jayakumar, P. Thangamani and C.V. Shanmugham along with AIAMDK leaders V. Maitreyan and Manoj Pandian will submit resolutions passed in the AIADMK meeting to the EC in New Delhi on Tuesday. They are also expected to withdraw the affidavits that were earlier submitted by the Palaniswami faction in favour of Sasikala and Dhinakaran.

In a related development, the privilege committee of the Tamil Nadu assembly issued notice to 21 DMK MLAs including MK Stalin and gave them a week’s time to reply. The DMK legislators had displayed gutka sachets in the assembly on 19 July to support their charge that banned tobacco products were illegally sold in Chennai.

This is seen as an attempt to aid the AIADMK government to show a working majority by suspending the DMK legislators, if a floor test is called for.

With Jayalaithaa’s R.K. Nagar assembly seat lying vacant, the EPS government needs the support of 117 MLAs for a simple majority. The DMK, Congress and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) together have 98 MLAs.

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